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if the lustre and efficacy of the gospel be hidden from him, it is a sad sign, that he is himself a lost creature, and is like to be lost to God and happiness for ever ; he is the captive of Satan, blinded by him as the god of this world, and in the probable way to be led on to unseen, but irretrievable destruction. Dreadful situation ! which might indeed occasion absolute despair, were it not for the views which the gospel gives us, of that God, who in the beginning of the creation commanded the light to shine out of darkness : who can yet say, Let there be light, and there shall be light in the most benighted soul, and the lustre of the glorious knowledge of God in the person of Christ shall beam forth. Let this divine interposition be earnestly implored ; and O, that it may be imparted before the blinded captives be consigned to eternal ruin, 10 blackness of darkness for ever!
The apostle freely acknowledges his own infirmities ; but glories and triumphs in the strength communicated to him from God, as an effectual sufport under the extremest trials. Ch. iv. 7-15
7 T HAVE spoken to you of the excellence of the gospel : But we
I have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of 8 the power may be of God, and not of us. We are in every res
pect afflicted, but not utterly over-pressed; brought into dubious 9 circumstances, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken ; 10 thrown down, yet not destroyed : always bearing about with us in
the body, the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus :ll may be manifested in the preservation of our feeble body. For
we who still live, are continually delivered over to death for the
sake of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in 12 our mortal flesh; so that death worketh in us, but life in you.
While you are called to live for his honour, we may be said to suffer 13 repeated deaths for his sake : We having the same spirit of faith
by which good men of old were animated ; according to what is
written (P8. cxvi. 10.) “I have believed, and therefore have I 14 spoken ;" we also believe, and therefore speak : knowing that he
who raised up the Lord Jesus, will also raise us up by Jesus, and 15 will then present us with you. For all these things * are for your
sakes, that the overflowing grace might abound by the thanksgiving of many to the glory of God.
REFLECTIONS. Let us adore the wisdom and goodness of God in sending us the gospel-treasure in earthen vessels ; in employing our fellow-mortals, rather than angels, under the character of his messengers to us ; by which means we are taught more to depend on God for that efficacy of power that renders them successful ; to acknowledge his hand in animating and preserving them, and are kept in such an exercise of faith, as is in this present world most honourable to God, and most pro
: * “ All our sufferings.” M.
fitable to us. Let the mortality of ministers be suitably remembered, by themselves and others, and improved to the best purposes; and let us take care that we do not think the less lionourably of the treasure on account of the weakness of these vessels in which its great proprietor has thought fit to lodge it.
Let it encourage them who are struggling with the difficulties of that arduous and important work, to think on those refreshments which the apostles experienced ; in consequence of which, though afflicted, they were not depressed, and though persecuted, they appeared not to be forsaken ; but could boast, that the support of their lives, amidst so many pressing dangers, was a demonstration of the life of Christ. We may indeed all say this, with respect to the support of the spiritual life, in the midst of so many difficulties. Having obtained help from him, we continue until this day; and it is because he lives, that we live also. Confiding therefore in him, let us exert ourselves vigorously in this holy warfare to which we are called ; and strenuously endeavour to maintain our ground against all the enemies who press hard to overbear and destroy us. And that we may be thus animated, let us labour to engrave on our hearts a more lively and assured belief of the great and important things of which we speak, and hear; and that not only in the general, but in particular instances. Let us labour to feel at once their evidence, and their energy; having the same spirit of faith which wrought in the apostles and prophets, and engaged them to discharge their office with such distinguished fidelity, fervour, and zeal. Especially let us maintain such believing apprehensions of this great and comprehensive truth, that God hath raised up Christ Jesus from the dead, and that he will by the same flower also raise up his faithful ministers and servants, who may firmly retain that glorious gospel; and, as those discoveries are made for their sakes, that they may obtain salvation by him, and that God may be glorified in their united and everlasting praises, let us daily set before our eyes this risen and triumphant Redeemer, and look forward to that glorious appearance of his, when he shall come to be admired in his saints, and to be further extolled and glorifi. ed, in all them who believe. Amen.
He describes his glorious hopes beyond the grave, as his support and ground
of triumph, under all Iris trials, and thereby animates others to fidelity and zeal. Ch. iv. 16.-v. 1–19.
16 A N this account (since our sufferings answer such important
ends) we faint not, but if our outer man perisheth, yet the 17 inner is daily renewed. For this momentary lightness of our af
fliction is working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal 18 weight of glory* ; while we are not aiming at the things which are
* This sentence is one of the most emphatical in Paul's writings; in which (says Dr. Grosvenor) he speaks as much like an orator as an apostle. The lightness of the trial is expressed by to Enap goy 795 Jary Ews, the light
visible, but at those which are invisible ; for the things which are
visible are temporary ; but those which are invisible are eternal. v. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle (or tent]
were dissolved, we have a building of God; an house not made. 2 with hands, eternal in the heavens. And in this we groan, ear
nestly desiring to be clothed upon* with our house, which is from 3 heaven; since being so clothed upon, we shall not be found na4 ked. Moreover we who are in this tabernacle do groan being
burdened: nevertheless we would not be unclothedt, but clothed 5 upon ; that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now he
who hath wrought us to this very thing is God, who hath also giv6 en us the earnest of his Spirit. Therefore we are always coura
gecus, kowing that while we are sojourning in the body, we are 7 in a state of exile from the Lord : (for we walk by faith, not by 8 sight:) we are courageous, I say, and think with complacency of
being rather absent from the body, and present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it the height of our ambition, that whether 10 present or absent, we may be well pleasing to him. For we must
all be manifest before the tribunal of Christ, that every one may receive according to what he hath done in the body, whether good or evil.
REFLECTIONS. Behold the great lesson which as Christians we have to learn, and which is of such efficacy that, if we thoroughly master it, all the other parts of our duty will become easy and delightful-to (aim) at the things which are unseen, rather than at those which are scen! And what can be so reasonable, as that eternal objects should employ the thoughts of immortal beings, rather than those which they must soon survive? Let all our souls be directed to them. Let us contemplate the feeble structure of this earthly tabernacle, which gives us só many tokens of its nearly approaching dissolution ; this tabernacle, in which we groan under such a variety of burdens ; and let us comfort ourselves with the prospect of speedy deliverance ; that so while the outer man perisheth, the inner man may be renewed day by day. What though we have death before us in a certain prospect, and know we must soon be absent from the body ? If we are true Christians, we have the most express assurance, not only that the time will come, when we shall inhabit a building of God, an house not made with hands, elernal in the heavens ; but that we shall immediately be present with
ness of our affliction ; as if he had said, it is even levity itself in such a comparison. On the other hand, the xoc.' une bonny Elg UKEE bonne is (says Mr. Blackwall ) infinitely emphatical, and cannot be expressed by any translation. It signifies, that all hyperboles fall short of describing that weighty eternal glory, so solid and lasting, that you may pass from one hyperbole to another, and yet when you have gained the last, are infinitely below it.
# “ To go permanently into our house."-M. Who has a valuable note to prove that this is the proper rendering of the word.-1.3. “And if we go in, we shall not be found destitute." Ib.
7 "Not because we desire to go out, but to go in."-M.
the Lord, with that blessed Redeemer, whom having not seen we love. How much more shall we love him, how much more shall we rejoice in him, when we are blessed with his presence, and behold his glory!
While we have this consciousness, let us be always confident and courageous, and rejoice in afflictions and mortality; since this light and momentary affliction hath so happy an influence upon a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: and death will be the consummation of our wishes. Let this then be our constant care, to walk by faith and not by sight; having this ever for the glorious object of our ambition, that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of the Lord. May God work us up to this self-same thing; and may the operation of his grace upon our souls for that purpose, be always acknowledged with the humblest gratitude, and its further communications sought with the most earnest importunity. Then shall we not dread the tribunal of Christ, before which we are so certainly to appear, and be made manifest; knowing that our integrity will be approved, and that those works of faith and labours of love, which shall then be commemorated, will meet with gracious acceptance, and most munificent rewards.
He pleads the irresistible engagements of a Redeemer's love, and the infinite
importance of the message of reconciliation, as motives for his zeal; on which he grounds a pathetic address to the Corinthians. Ch.v.11.-vi. 1, 2.
11 V NOWING therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade
men to escape it : (and) as we are made manifest to God, 80 12 I hope also we are manifest to your consciences. For we do not,
as some charge us with doing, recommend ourselves again unto you, but we are giving you occasion of boasting on our account,
that ye may have something to answer those who glory in appear13 ance, and not in heart. For if (as some insinuate) we be trans
ported beyond ourselves, it is to God: or if we be sober, it is for 14 your sakes. For the love of Christ beareth us away ; while we 15 thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. And he
died for all, that they who live in consequence of his dying love,
should not henceforth live to themselves, but to him who died for 16 them, and rose again. So that we from this time forward, know
not any man after the flesh : we have no partiality for any on account of their birth or religion : and if we have known Christ after
the flesh, having any carnal expeciations from him, as a temporal 17 prince, henceforth we know him in these views no more. So that
if any man be in Christ there is a new creation : old things are 18 passed away, behold all things are become new. And all things
are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,
and hath committed to us apostles the ministry of reconciliation, 19 of which this is an epitome ; namely that God was in Christ re
conciling the world unto himself; not imputing to them their offences : and he hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, so that God is entreat
ing you by us : and we beseech you in Christ's stead, that ye be 21 reconciled to God. For he hath made him, who knew no sin, a
sin-offering for us, that we might be made in him the righteousvi. ness of God: (or divinely righteous. We then as the joint la
bourers of God beseech you that you receive not the grace of God 2 in vain : for he saith (Is. slix. 8.) “I have heard thee in an ac
ceptable time, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee :" behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation.
REFLECTIONS. How adorable is the divine condescension, that such an embassy of ficace should ever be sent to any of the children of the fallen Adam! How wonderful the divine patience, that the accepted time, and the day of salvation, should, after so many slights, be so long protracted! O, let us not receive such grace in vain, lest affronted mercy should forsake its seat, and give way to inexorable justice !-Surely if there be a sentiment, that may justly excite the heart to the greatest fervour of affection, and that will vindicate the most ardent transports of zeal to spread it in the world, it must be that of the Love of Christ ; which may well bear us away, while we seriously consider, in how miserable a state he found us, dead in sin, and under a sentence of death by the divine law; especially, when we further reflect, at how expensive a rate he redeemed us, even with the price of his own life. Who then that has any remains of judgment at all, must not judge and determine in his own mind, that it is most fit that our ransomed lives should be sacred to him that redeemed them; that our breasts should be on fire with the most earnest desires to promote his cause and kingdom ; that henceforth, from the time we come to the knowledge of this important truth, we should not live to ourselves, but to him who died for us, and rose again; resuming, with his renewed life, the same tender concern for our happiness, which engaged him continually to exert it in the most generous efforts for our recovery and salvation.
Let all secular views, therefore, be given up; and let us labour to improve in that renovation of soul which is the essential character of the true Christian; and as ever we desire to have any satisfactory evidence that we are in Christ : let us see to it that we are now creatures ; and if we are indeed so, let us daily acknowledge our obligations to his transforming grace. From him are the first proposals of peace and reconciliation to offending creatures ; from him, the disposition of soul humbly to submit ourselves to the terms so kindly proposed, and to sue out our pardon agreeably to the purposes of this grand act of indemnity.--How amazing the condescension that grants it; and appoints ambassadors to urge us to have compassion on our own souls, and not reject this counsel of God against ourselves ! May the ministers of the gospel often consider themselves, in this view as ambassadors and agents for Christ, by whom God beseecheth sinners to be reconciled; and let them prosecute this embassy, with all holy importunity and earnest address. O, that the success of it might be more ap